JOPLIN, Mo. - As a natural disaster manager and civil/environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Leo Arbaugh Jr. has gained plenty of disaster response experience.
So his expertise definitely was needed in Joplin, Mo., which was devastated by a powerful EF5 tornado May 22.
Arbaugh deployed this summer to the Joplin Recovery Field Office, which the Corps established as part of the National Response Framework to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Joplin, that support includes providing debris removal, temporary housing, and construction of temporary critical facilities such as schools, fire stations and health clinics.
From May 26 through July 15, Arbaugh served as a subject matter expert for temporary housing and as an emergency support function assistant team leader. He also coordinated disaster response operations for the design and construction of community group housing sites.
The 20-year Corps employee said he contributes to the agency’s success “by focusing on how to make a project succeed rather than on how it could fail.” In Joplin, he complied with short timelines for completion of temporary housing for displaced families.
Arbaugh earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, a master's in environmental engineering, and another master's in administration/education, all from Marshall University.
Arbaugh gets the most satisfaction out of assisting in the response and recovery operations in disaster-stricken communities. Some of his favorite Corps memories came from his deployment as a team leader in Iraq. His efforts there earned him a certificate of merit from a leading official in the Coalition Provisional Authority of Babylon province.
In his spare time, Arbaugh enjoys spending time with his granddaughters, and is an aficionado of classic cars. In the future, he plans to continue assisting in response and recovery operations for the Corps and FEMA.
The challenges do not faze him, he said.
“As Walt Disney once said, ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’”